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UK to probe MI5 role in torture of British resident

Video by Nicholas RUSHWORTH , Philomé ROBERT

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-03-27

British authorities have ordered an investigation into whether MI5 agents were complicit in the torture of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed (photo), an Ethiopian citizen and British resident who was released last month.

Britain’s top law official has asked the police to investigate whether or not the MI5 was involved in the torture of a British resident recently released from Guantanamo prison.

Attorney General Baroness Scotland said in a statement that she had enough evidence to ask the police to investigate the claims by the former detainee Binyam Mohamed.

She hoped the investigation would be carried out "as expeditiously as possible given the seriousness and sensitivity of the issues involved."

A British resident and Ethiopian citizen, Mohamed was arrested in Pakistan in 2002 while trying to return to Britain with a false passport.

The announcement was welcomed by the legal charity Reprieve, which represents Mohamed.

Reprieve’s legal director Zachary Katznelson added: “The police also must get in touch with Binyam’s lawyers at Reprieve – just one look at our documents will be enough to convince anyone that criminal acts have taken place.”

Mohamed was placed in the US “special rendition” programme, and spent nearly seven years in custody in Pakistan, Morocco, Afghanistan and the US military’s Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba. The United States suspected him of receiving al Qaeda training in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Binyam Mohamed said today in a release: “I am very pleased that an investigation is taking place. I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t scapegoat the little people. We certainly shouldn’t blame ‘Witness B’ - he was only following orders.”

“Witness B” refers to an MI5 agent that Mohamed claims questioned him in Pakistan in 2002.

Mohamed says that he was tortured and abused during his captivity in Pakistan and Morocco, with the collusion of British officials.

He was released from Guantanamo and returned to Britain in February 2009. All charges against him have been dropped.

Date created : 2009-03-26